The baby had on what I referred to as the French Moo. It was a white longsleeved suit, with gray and black polka dots. He looked like the spurious offspring of a cow and a mime. Why the French ancestry, I couldn’t say, but it seemed to fit. This was quite the occupation for such a little fellow, and I laughed every time he was outfitted as the French Moo.
The baby cooed from his mother’s lap, breaking the universal law of mimes everywhere.
“Oh little one,” I crooned in my unpracticed maternal voice, “Come to Auntie Zoe!” I held out my arms and was rewarded with an excited squeel. The baby bounced up and down on my knees, and I watched my sister through the corner of my eye. She was mumbling to herself as she sifted through the various baby paraphernalia piled around us.
“It was just here,” she said distractedly, peering under the table.
“The sippy cup. Dang it!”
I hid a smile. A year and a half ago, “dang it” wouldn’t have made it into her colorful vocabulary. Who knew that my spikey-haired, punk rock older sister would grow up to be a respectable, responsible adult? I guess babies will do that to you.
“Is Mommy having a little breakdown?” I asked my tow-headed nephew, earning a gummy smile.
“Seriously, Zoe, help me. You have no idea how many of these we go through a day.”
I spotted the blue and yellow cup where it had rolled under the stroller. “There,” I pointed. The baby clapped and held out a chubby, star-shaped hand. I preened slightly in auntly pride.
“Here you go, you little monster,” said my sister fondly, handing him the prize. “Try to hang on to it for more than two seconds this time.”
I stared at her for a long minute, remembering. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was the little monster in her life. “You’re a great mom,” I said.
She smiled, an unknown and secret smile. It looked good on her. Better than the spikey hair.
The baby giggled as I tweaked his nose, and the sound drifted down on us like snowflakes, light and soft. “Come on, little French Moo. Let Auntie Zoe introduce you to the seedy underbelly of the sippy cup vortex. I know just where to hide ’em.” Big eyes looked up into mine.
“Then I’ll teach you how to drive,” I whispered conspiratorily.